McLouth's two-run blast lifts Pirates past Yankees

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The Pirates will have only one All-Star at Yankee Stadium next week, but there now is a good chance the citizens there will recognize the name when he is introduced.

Nate McLouth, continuing his breakout season in booming style, broke a seventh-inning tie with a two-run home run and beat the New York Yankees, 4-2, on a pristine night at PNC Park, before a standing-room-only crowd of 39,081.

It was 2-2 after New York had just tied in the top of the seventh, and Jack Wilson led off with a five-pitch walk off fresh reliever Jose Veras. McLouth squared up to bunt with the first pitch but fouled it off.

Wilson broke before the next pitch, a 93-mph fastball that McLouth sent high above the Clemente Wall for his 18th home run -- third in four games -- and 61st and 62nd RBIs.

McLouth batted .214 in June, but he is 12 for 36 this month.

That made the most of eight fine innings from Paul Maholm, who gave up only the two runs in the seventh inning, as well as seven hits while striking out four and walking one. Of his 108 pitches, 73 were strikes, a sign of his aggressiveness.

When Maholm walked off the mound after a 1-2-3 eighth, the crowd stood and roared as it had for no other pitcher this season, even though it could not have been sure he was finished.

Damaso Marte, now the clear temporary closer in Matt Capps' absence, picked up his third save in four games by shutting down the ninth. He gave up a one-out walk, but he got Jason Giambi to fly out and Derek Jeter to roll out to first.

The Pirates benefited from fine defense all over the field, notably two exemplary plays by third baseman Jose Bautista, one diving to his right to prevent a double, the other a spirited barehand charge-and-throw on a dribbler.

The Yankees' single-game stop was the makeup of a June 26 rainout.

The Pirates came out uncommonly aggressive against New York starter Mike Mussina, no doubt because he had walked only 16 batters all season, and it paid off with nine hits through his six innings, as well as four other intensely struck line drives.

But all they had to show for it was two runs.

Wilson, the No. 9 hitter again, opened with a double to right-center and, after a groundout pushed him to third, Freddy Sanchez's single got him home for a 1-0 lead. There might have been more, but Ryan Doumit was thrown out trying to stretch a single to a double.

Wilson led off the fifth with a single but was erased on Nate McLouth's fielder's choice that would have been a 4-6-3 double play but for Jeter's wild throw. McLouth stole second and took third on catcher Jose Molina's throw into the outfield.

Again, it was Sanchez with the RBI, this on a sacrifice fly to deep center, and it was 2-0.

Meanwhile, Maholm coasted through six mostly quiet innings -- four hits, 78 pitches -- before the Yankees finally broke through to tie in the seventh: Two-out singles and Jeter getting hit by a pitch in the foot loaded the bases for Bobby Abreu, who delivered a two-run single into right.

Since the end of May, Maholm has gone 4-0 with a 2.66 ERA in eight starts, with two other games he exited with a lead only to have the bullpen lose it.

The Pirates completed their interleague schedule 6-9, including two of three against New York.

Next visit by the Yankees: Perhaps in another 48 years.


Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com.


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